The FCC votes to end the 2015 Open Internet Order. Here’s a guide to net neutrality and why it matters.
Democratic senators have called for reinstating net neutrality protections and moved to force a vote on the proposal.
A group of senators led by Democratic leader Chuck Schummer and Edward Markey filed a discharge petition on Wednesday, necessary to trigger a vote to overrule the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to revoke protections put in place during the presidency of Barack Obama.
It is not clear when the vote will take place, but advocates believe the Senate will vote before the end of next week.
Proponents currently have the backing of 47 Democrats and two independents, as well as Republican Senator Susan, and they believe they will win on a 50-49 vote.
However, if the Senate manages to repeal the measure, this initiative is not likely to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or to survive a veto by President Donald Trump.
The FCC in December voted 3-2 to reverse Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain online content.
The new FCC rules, once effective, would give internet service providers powers to change how consumers access the internet, but include new transparency requirements that require them to disclose any changes to consumers.
The FCC has not yet disclosed when the new rules take effect, but officials have said the commission is likely to give 30-days notice before the changes take place.
The FCC could soon announce the start date.
“The end of net neutrality would be a disaster four our country and the free flow of ideas. But this fight is not over,” Bernie Sanders wrote.
On Wednesday, May 9th, we officially file the petition to force a vote. If you don’t see your Senators on this list, they need to know how you feel about #NetNeutrality TODAY. My resolution will *fully* restore #NetNeutrality & we only need #OneMoreVote to pass it in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/743YFCPkqU
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 7, 2018
So what is the debate about, here are the key points:
The term was coined in 2003 by Tim Wu, who is now a law professor at Columbia University. In a 2003 paper, he argued for a nondiscrimination rule that would ensure a level playing field among Internet applications.
ISPs should not be allowed to separate data and slide some of it into “fast lanes” while blocking or discriminating other, as Klint Finley explained.
In 2010, the Obama administration announced regulations that prohibited ISPs from blocking online content, prohibited discrimination, and required more transparency. In 2015, stricter network neutrality rules were approved.
— The Web Foundation (@webfoundation) May 9, 2018
Net neutrality advocates argue that keeping the internet an open playing field is crucial for innovation.
“Net neutrality is the idea that the internet should be free and open for everyone. If a service provider can block you from seeing certain content or can make you pay extra for it, that hurts all of us and we should have rules against it,” Zuckerberg wrote in July 2017.
Other supporters believe that net neutrality is imperative for free expression. Telecommunications companies would have the power to suppress particular views or limit online speech to those who can pay more.
I invented the web as an open, permissionless space #foreveryone. The FCC’s repeal of #NetNeutrality threatens to take that away. Tell the Senate they must protect net neutrality to keep the web open: https://t.co/B73BzfwMi0 #RedAlert cc @lisamurkowski @SenJohnKennedy @JeffFlake
— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) May 9, 2018
Others argue that net neutrality discourages innovation by network owners or it could also discourage investment in infrastructure.
According to the critics, internet users might benefit from having the option of paying a premium service ensuring certain services are given priority, and hence encouraging innovation.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai, Trump’s appointed FCC chairman and one of its strongest advocates, said. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”